Now what’s that little baby doing
Dressing up in banker’s clothes?
— Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings
Many people have commented on the Congressional vote to codify the authoritarian powers asserted by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, i.e., the arbitrary, unchallengeable power to declare anyone on earth — including American citizens — an “enemy of the state” and incarcerate them, indefinitely, outside of due process, in military custody.
There is, at this writing, an outside chance that Barack Obama might possibly veto this “enabling decree” — but only on the grounds that to accept Congressional approval of these tyrannical powers might encroach upon the presidential autocrat’s authority to do whatever he or she damn well pleases to anyone he or she wants to destroy. But in any case and every case, the bipartisan political ruling class is united in its steadfast determination to eliminate any last vestige of constitutional liberty or rule of law in the United States.
And whatever the outcome of this particular bill, the reality will remain the same: the President of the United States will continue to claim — and exercise — absolute arbitrary power over the life and liberty of every person on earth. As we’ve said here before, not even Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin at their most megalomaniacal ever dreamed of asserting the kind of universal power now asserted by American presidents and the lickspittlish lackeys in the United States Congress.
There is, alas, no “news” in this. I wrote my first “If the Republic Had Not Died a Long Time Ago” piece several years ago. And Arthur Silber was one of the first (and one of the very few) to point out that the election of then-candidate Barack Obama would only bring the retrenchment, expansion — and codification — of George W. Bush’s worst constitutional depredations. So it has proven, over and over and over.
But as the Congressional vote shows, one shouldn’t fetishize Obama (or Bush, as I was often guilty of doing in the past) as some kind of unique locus for the authoritarianism that is now, beyond all doubt, the essence and practice of the “American way” in the modern world. Both Bush and now Obama have, in many ways, only exemplified and made manifest the zeitgeist of the ruling elite. This is what they believe: the Constitution is a dead letter. The Republic is a dead letter. Might makes right. Mammon is God. Liberty is inconvenient. And any human being who does not belong to the elite or serve it with dog-like devotion is a piece of shit who can be abused, neglected, discarded or eliminated without the slightest shame or consequence. This is the mindset of our elites and their servitors.
But I want to say one further thing. Every one of these elites, every one of these bowing, scraping, enabling courtiers, is also a individual human being, born with the same inestimable worth and capacity for the same astonishing feats of love and comity that all individuals have in potentia. But they have given themselves over to systems and mindsets that are implacably inhuman. They are all in the process of self-murdering their own souls. It’s a horrible, sickening sight. And although I condemn their crimes and tainted minds with all the fury and outrage and scorn they deserve, I take no pleasure in this rage. I am heartsick, truly, at every soul lost to the machines — the War Machine, the Money Machine, the Power Machine — that rule our world.
But nu, what can you do? That’s the way the cornbread crumbles; that’s the way the whole thing ends.